EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 5, 2014

N.H. drivers like highway message boards

Billboards are popular on highways

They are generally less than 10 words long, but a lot of thought goes into the messages on the electronic billboards along Interstate 93.

“We have a list of messages that have been pre-approved by committees,” said Matt Plantier, a supervisor at the New Hampshire Traffic Management Center. “We’ve got all types of messages for winter storms and other uses.”

Readers listed the electronic message boards as one of the “603 Reasons” New Hampshire is special.

New Hampshire State Police and the New Hampshire Traffic Management Center work together to get messages to motorists. Whether it’s an Amber Alert or an accident ahead, the state wants drivers to get messages as quickly as possible.

“It’s gone very well,” Plantier said. “Our goal is to get the information out to the public within a 10-minute window. As soon as we hear about it, we try to get it on there.”

Lask week, the signs flashed, “Winter Weather. Thurs p.m. Plan Ahead.”

“We’re very limited to what we can say,” Plantier said. “Most of the message boards are limited to three lines, and only eight characters per line. We can’t fit all that we would like on to it.”

State police Lt. Matt Shapiro creates the public service announcements which appear on the message board. He said there’s a trick to how they’re written.

The message boards can only carry messages that involve a single flash, meaning drivers see the first part of the message, then it flashes to reveal the second half.

“We only allow that because we don’t want people staring at the boards for too long,” Shapiro said.

He also writes the messages so that if a driver sees the second part of the message before seeing the first, it still makes sense.

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